Engaging in the Interview
How will you be evaluated? Once the official part of an interview begins, interviewers will carefully listen and evaluate your answers to their questions. Here is a list of what they are looking for:
- How mentally alert and responsible are you?
- Can you draw proper inferences and conclusions during the course of the interview?
- Do you demonstrate a degree of intellectual depth when communicating, or is your thinking shallow and lacking depth?
- Have you used good judgment and common sense regarding your life planning up to this point?
- What is your capacity for problem solving?
- How well do you respond to stress and pressure?
Refrain from reciting memorized answers. You want to come across as interested and naturally enthusiastic about the job, not rehearsed and flat.
- Research the position and the organization
- Evaluate how your experiences and skills relate to the position.
- Formulate concise answers.
Proper interview body language: Sit up straight and look alert. Do not chew gum or smoke, even if the interviewer does. Feel free to smile when appropriate. When being asked a question, look the interviewer in the eyes to show you are listening, but avoid staring. Try to maintain eye contact while answering the question, though glancing away occasionally as if thinking is fine. Vary the temp and tone of your voice.
More Tips: You can control the content of the interview. Know in advance what you want to say and look for opportunities to say it.
- Have your resume and /or portfolio with you to refer to, as a help to trigger your memory.
- Be sincere, positive, and honest with your answers.
- Relate your background and accomplishments to the employer's needs.
- Do not talk about what was wrong with past jobs or past employers. Instead, talk about what you are looking for in a job, what you have learned about yourself, and your work.
- Do not mention financial or personal problems.
Questions about job duties: Ask them early in the interview so that you can target your abilities to the job as the interview progresses. Some employers will tell you that they have set aside a time at the end for questions. Others might be comfortable with you asking questions throughout. Pay attention to an employer's body language and watch how they react to your questions.
If the interview is not going smoothly, don't panic. Some interviewers might test you to see how you handle stress. Stay positive, and ask your interviewer to repeat anything you do not understand so you can gather your thoughts.
Expect the Unexpected
Many times questions are asked simply to see how you react. During the interview, you may be asked some unusual questions. For example, surprise questions could range from, "Tell me a joke" to "What time period would you liked to have lived in?" These are not the kind of questions you can prepare for in advance. But through your reaction and the response given, you will be evaluated by the employer.
- Pause briefly.
- Consider the question.
- Give a natural response.
The Closing Counts, Too
Concluding the interview is also very important. During this time, your overall performance is being assessed.
- Remain enthusiastic and courteous. Often this is when you are given the opprotunity to ask questions.
- Prepare questions ahead of time to help you decide if the position is suitable for you.
It is appropriate to ask the interviewer about the hiring process and when a decision will be made. You could also ask if there are any important skills needed for the job that have not been covered in the interview. This allows the employer to state concerns, and for you to address those issues. If training has not been discussed, you could ask how training is provided by the company.
Do not ask questions about salary, benefits, vacation or other perks on the job. Wait for the interviewer to introduce these subjects. The best time to talk about salary is after you have been offered the job. You are then in a much better position to negotiate.
The conclusion of the interview is usually indicated when the interviewer stands up. Shake hands and thank him / her for considering you. Being forthright is a quality that most employers will respect. During the interview or shortly after, write down the name(s) of the interviewer(s) so you won't forget. Send a thank you letter within two days.